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Clockwise from top left: David Bennett, Judith Collins, Damien O’Connor, David Parker (Facebook, Radio NZ)
Clockwise from top left: David Bennett, Judith Collins, Damien O’Connor, David Parker (Facebook, Radio NZ)

The BulletinAugust 27, 2020

The Bulletin: Mixed messages on freshwater regulations

Clockwise from top left: David Bennett, Judith Collins, Damien O’Connor, David Parker (Facebook, Radio NZ)
Clockwise from top left: David Bennett, Judith Collins, Damien O’Connor, David Parker (Facebook, Radio NZ)

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Mixed messages on freshwater regulations, Christchurch gunman won’t address court, and an important story about what happens after a positive Covid-19 test.

National leader Judith Collins has told a Facebook live chat that the government’s freshwater regulations will be “gone by lunchtime” if National wins. As Stuff’s Henry Cooke reports, she also said that the current government is “destroying the country” in the video, alongside agriculture spokesperson David Bennett. Well, that’s what they said on Facebook at least – and it really was quite an unequivocal statement. A press statement put out later in the afternoon used much softer language, but still promised to “repeal or review” the regulations that came into law earlier this month. National also pledged that “unlike Labour, National will work with farmers rather than against them.”

The irony of that statement is that the freshwater regulations themselves were significantly modified over the course of the development process.Politik reported yesterday morning that they were likely to be further relaxed. And then subsequently, Farmers Weekly reported that amendments had in fact been made, just three weeks after the regulations were put in place, particularly around winter grazing rules. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor even addressed rural sector opposition by hinting that other farmer-friendly changes could also follow. To match National’s example of sending different messages to difference audiences, environment minister David Parker hit the headlines by saying National’s comments were “stupid” and “reckless”.

Meanwhile, farming sector groups are urging their members to basically get on with working out what they need to do under the new rules. Farmers Weekly reports Beef+Lamb and Dairy NZ have been out and about talking farmers through the technical details of it all, with B+LNZ’s environment manager Corina Jordan saying “all farmers and all lifestyle block owners should take a good look and understand what they mean for them.” Federated Farmers have also welcomed the change in the government’s position, reports Rural News Group, saying the previous winter grazing regulations were going to be “entirely unworkable for Southland farmers, and many others around the country during cold, wet winters.”

The Christchurch mosque shooter will not address the court on the final day of sentencing today. Over the course of the victim impact statements, there were many expressions of anger, defianceheartbreak, and occasionally forgiveness. But one theme that was constant in what many said was the cowardice of his actions, reports Radio NZ. And now he will not even face the families of those he killed and attempt to apologise. The sentence will be handed down today.

Another important Covid story from our political editor: One of the themes that I’ve noticed coming up a lot in recent conversations is people are worried – either for themselves or for others – about what will happen in the event of a positive Covid test. Occasionally people have even indicated that they might refuse a test out of fear of compulsory quarantine. With that as context, Justin Giovannetti has put together a piece demystifying the whole process. The story even goes into what happens to people’s pets when they go into quarantine – they get looked after, in case you’re wondering. It’s really useful information to have, because we’re probably going to continue seeing cases for a while, and as Radio NZ reports, experts say community testing is going to have to be maintained long-term.

The union for teachers has criticised an $11.7 million grant to fund the expansion of a private school in Taranaki. The money for the Green School, which has a curriculum based around sustainability, comes out of the ‘shovel ready’ project fund, and the announcement was fronted by Green co-leader James Shaw. However, as Stuff’s Thomas Coughlan reports, the funding goes against the Green Party’s own policy on phasing out money for private schools. As the NZEI’s Paul Goulter points out, it also comes at a time when maintenance grants to public schools are being capped at $400k each.

The NZX stock exchange has been facing a series of cyber attacks in recent days. As Michael Andrew reports, the stock exchange has had to be repeatedly taken offline, due to what is known as a ‘distributed denial of service’ (DDOS) attack. It’s not clear who’s making the attack, and why, but it really could be anyone, from criminal gangs to hostile governments to bored teenagers.

An incredible interview about the reality of how schooling ends for many teenagers in lower decile schools. Breakfast has spoken to Aorere College head girl Aigagalefili Fepulea’i-Tapua’i, who has noticed many of her fellow students since the first lockdown haven’t been able to come back to school – they’ve had to sacrifice their education to make money to support their families. “There was a big misconception that there was a choice, that you always have a choice to stay at school. It’s put a magnifying glass on a lot of the systemic issues that we’ve been facing as a community for a very long time,” she said.

Emirates Team New Zealand is in the clear over any allegations of impropriety with public money, reports the NZ Herald. A joint statement has been sent out after an audit, and confirmed that ETNZ was in fact scammed. There will be a mediation process over who should wear the cost of that money being lost. There has also been some criticism of both the management structure and record keeping of the syndicate.

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Image: Tina Tiller

Right now on The Spinoff: Toby Manhire reports on a new poll showing the prevalence of Covid-19 conspiracy theories. Linda Burgess writes about slipping into a mask for the first time and seeing what the world feels like. Michael Andrew reports on the increasing danger of cold and damp housing in a time of Covid. Sam Brooks reflects on the strange distortion of time in alert level three, and on not taking time for granted. Toby Morris and his kids review Jonathan King’s graphic novel The Inkberg Enigma. Hayden Donnell reveals some of the story pitches that this website of fine editorial judgement has rejected.

And in multimedia stuff: Josie Adams picks the biggest winners and losers from the Youth Wings debate. There’s a brand new episode of Gone By Lunchtime which looks at the strange pre-election limbo we’re in right now. And Alice Snedden writes about the depiction of women’s bodies in media, and why non-sexual depictions need to be normalised.

For a feature today, an analysis of Covid-19’s impact on the US economy. That country had been notably inconsistent on locking down, and as a result the virus has been able to run rampant. That in part is likely to lead to what is called a ‘double-dip’ recession, as Interest’s Stephen Roach explains. Or in other words, things get bad, and after a brief respite they get worse. Here’s an excerpt:

With the US remaining in the grips of the pandemic, the case for sustainable recovery looks tenuous. While rebounds in production and employment underscore significant progress on the supply side of the economy, these gains are far from complete. Through July, nonfarm employment has recouped only 42% of what was lost in February and March, and the unemployment rate, at 10.2%, is still nearly triple the pre-COVID level of 3.5%. Similarly, industrial production in July remained 8% below its February high.

Healing has been even more tentative on the demand side. That is especially the case for key components of discretionary consumption – notably, retail shopping, as well as spending on restaurants, travel, and leisure. Full participation in these activities – all of which entail face-to-face human contact – implies health risks that most of the population is unwilling to take, especially given elevated infections, the lack of robust therapeutics, and the absence of a vaccine.

One of the greatest stories of loyalty between team and player in sport appears to be coming to an end. Lionel Messi, the diminutive Argentine genius who spearheaded FC Barcelona’s greatest successes and most beautiful football, has told the club that he wants to leave after two decades in their system. The Guardian reports it is because of a fractured relationship with the club’s board and management, but there may also be legal battles over whether he is allowed to walk away.

That’s it for The Bulletin. If you want to support the work we do at The Spinoff, please check out our membership programme

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